Verse: Matthew 6:9-13
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Do our prayers even matter? If I had a dollar for every time I've heard this question debated (or every time I've wondered it myself!).
How can my prayers matter if God knows the future? When I pray for something and it eventually happens how do I know that's prayer and not just coincidence? How can God really care about prayers from so many people?
There are legitimate hours-long conversations to have around these questions. They are honest questions. At the heart of them is a longing for all of us to know that God hears our prayers and responds to them. In response to these questions: what if we just took Jesus at his word?
He tells us to pray. And then look at the things he tells us to pray about! They all include praying for change to come. He starts with worship (hallowed) and then quickly moves into
- pray for God's kingdom to come on earth - in other words for change to happen!
- pray for God's physical and spiritual provision in our lives
- pray for God's forgiveness AND the ability to forgive others
- pray for freedom from sin and temptation
I'm not saying this is a super clean break down, but think about it this way:
- Prayer for Mission
- Prayer for Provision
- Prayer for Community
- Prayer for Personal Integrity
That isn't just some prayer that we hope might be effective. Jesus asks us to pray assuming our prayers matter. Doesn't that count for something? It should! If Jesus thought your prayers mattered, you can take comfort knowing they do. He assumed that your prayers would move his kingdom, change hearts, restore relationships, and make you more like him.
Some people like to say, "prayer is just for us." Sure! Two things can be true! You might be praying for God's kingdom to come in the life of a friend AND that also affects your heart by making you more compassionate. Win-win!
So I hope this is encouraging. Resist the thoughts that your prayers don't matter by trusting the words of Jesus. And by way...wouldn't it be a great strategy of the enemy - if our prayers actually do matter - to convince us that they don't? Seems like maybe we should pray about that...